Cablegate: Vietnam's Plans for the Mekong Initiative Against

DE RUEHHI #0070/01 0221027
O R 221026Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Vietnam's plans for the Mekong Initiative against

REF: 09 HANOI 1436

1. (SBU) Summary: Poloff and USAID project manager met with the
Regional Project Manager for the UN's Interagency Project on Human
Trafficking (UNIAP) on January 5 to obtain a briefing on progress
under UNIAP's USAID-funded grant and discuss Vietnam's
participation in the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative
against Trafficking (COMMIT) process and Vietnam's overall efforts
to combat TIP. Within COMMIT, Vietnam is focusing on training and
capacity building. Vietnam's national priority areas include
developing a National Plan of Action for 2011-2015, improving
bilateral cooperation with neighboring countries, and drafting a
law on human trafficking to submit to the National Assembly in
October 2010 (reftel 09 HANOI 1436). According to UNIAP, over the
past three years Vietnam has demonstrated "a new sense of wanting
to move forward," and that his Vietnamese counterparts were
"energized" when discussing how best to combat trafficking - a
significant attitude shift. Post will co-host with UNIAP a TIP
seminar focused on exploring opportunities to coordinate and
leverage our anti-TIP activities with other like-minded diplomatic
missions in Vietnam continue to look for ways to ensure that
Vietnam's anti-TIP legislation meets international standards and is
comprehensive. End Summary.

2. (SBU) UNIAP's Amcit regional project manager opened the January
5 meeting with Poloff and USAID Project Manager by recalling that
in 2004, the six governments of the Greater Mekong Sub-region
(Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam) signed a MOU
to combat Trafficking in Persons and launch the COMMIT process.
The MOU requires these governments to coordinate their anti-human
trafficking efforts and to incorporate NGOs as partners. As part
of the process, UNIAP meets annually with each country to develop a
localized "work plan" that addresses the specific anti-human
trafficking needs of each country. Each work plan is funded by a
$100,000 grant from UNIAP, supplemented with additional resources
provided by NGO partners.

3. (SBU) Speaking with PolOff and the USAID Project Manager,
UNIAP's regional project manager stated that this the UNIAP grant
was key to the success of the COMMIT process, because many COMMIT
member governments otherwise would not have the resources to
implement their work plans. The COMMIT process also facilitates
meetings at a regional level to discuss successes, gaps, trends,
and coordination efforts. The most recent regional meeting was the
biannual ministerial meeting held in Burma this January. UNIAP
works in six countries, including Vietnam, with a staff of 30
region-wide and 250 government and NGO partners.

Vietnam's 2010 COMMIT work plan

4. (SBU) On January 5, Vietnam's COMMIT Task Force (which
includes key government actors, the UN and NGO partners) and UNIAP
held their annual meeting to develop a COMMIT work plan for 2010.
Mr. Vu Hung Vuong, Deputy General Director, General Department of
Police, lead the GVN delegation. The UNIAP representative
characterized Vietnam's 2010 work plan as "comprehensive, if
somewhat ambitious," particularly in the areas of training and
capacity building. Additional national priorities for Vietnam
include developing a National Plan of Action for 2011-2015,
improving regional bilateral cooperation (between Vietnam and
COMMIT member countries) and, most importantly, preparing a draft
law on human trafficking to submit to the National Assembly in
October 2010. The UNIAP representative stated that of all the
COMMIT member countries, Vietnam's work plan was tied closest to
its National Plan of Action, which he said has resulted in both
plans being more successfully implemented.

Beyond the work plan

5. (SBU) UNIAP and the GVN decided during their annual meeting to
submit t a formal proposal to the Prime Minister requesting that
the current NC-130 anti-trafficking project be upgraded to a
National Target Program. Such a designation would ensure
national-level funding for NC-130 initiatives. GVN meeting
participants reportedly argued that new anti-trafficking laws
prepared by the government should define trafficking in accordance
with international standards, an important goal since Vietnam's
current definitions do not include some forms of labor trafficking
and include other crimes, such as baby selling. According to
UNIAP, the Ministry of Justice is drafting the new law and plans to
present it to the National Assembly in October 2010, with a goal of
ratification in May or June of 2011. As part of the process, the

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Ministry of Justice intends to host a forum on drafting its
anti-trafficking law with regional and international experts to
discuss their efforts in early spring 2010. (Comment: We have not
seen the current form of the draft law. To the best of our
knowledge, UNIAP is the only non-Vietnamese entity that has seen
it. UNIAP has been asked not to share its contents with others,
but has described its current from as "bare-bones and sketchy." It
is unclear how open the GVN will be to input from the U.S. or
others into the drafting of this law during its spring forum. End

6. (U) UNIAP Regional Representative and UNIAP Program Manager
cited some key achievements of an ongoing three year $500,000
USAID-funded UNIAP grant. First, the completion of a
community-based survey on TIP, conducted in collaboration with An
Giang University. The report's findings will be presented in a
regional workshop on TIP statistics in Bangkok, tentatively
scheduled for March this year. Second, the completion of a second
series of training for staff from eight shelters in Vietnam, who
are providing health, social and reintegration services for victims
of trafficking. Trainees are provided with skills on victim
assessment, case management and psychological counseling, and work
on how to improve the quality of services in their shelters. And
third, signing of three sub-grants with local NGOs to expand
outreach services to TIP victims and high-risks groups. These
program activities began early January 2010.

7. (SBU) UNIAP also discussed during the meeting its project to
analyze returning immigration cases on the Vietnam-China border to
determine what factors influence whether or not an individual
becomes trafficked or experiences labor exploitation. A contractor
is currently in the field trying to determine the best way to
implement data collection. Vietnam has expressed some concern that
the information collected might embarrass the Chinese government,
as anecdotal accounts of returnees who are pushed back to the
Vietnamese border indicate that returnees are not being treated
well, he said.

A shift in attitude

8. (SBU) The UNIAP representative, a former USAID officer who has
been working on COMMIT process for three years, said he has
observed a noticeable shift in the attitude of the Vietnamese
government towards addressing TIP-related issues. His Vietnamese
counterparts have "developed a new sense of wanting to move
forward" and are "energized" when discussing how to address the TIP
issue. Vietnamese government officials are more involved in
meetings with other governments, due in part to their growing
confidence when discussing the issues. This year, Thailand and
Vietnam assume the two rotating member seats on the UNIAP board.
The UNIAP representative said that he was confident that Vietnam
would contribute positively.


9. (SBU) UNIAP's views on its 2010 partnership plans with the GVN
and positive Vietnamese attitudes toward addressing TIP-related
issues are welcome news and track with our recent discussions with
national and provincial officials (septel). Our GVN interlocutors
appear more engaged and committed to moving forward. Post is
hosting a workshop with UNIAP and colleagues from other like-minded
embassies here to build on this momentum and explore opportunities
to coordinate and leverage our anti-TIP activities in Vietnam. We
will continue to engage GVN officials on the status and contents of
the new anti-trafficking legislation to try to ensure that it meets
international standards and is comprehensive. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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